Whether you scaled back your wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic or you always planned to have a small wedding, you might be wondering how many details you should include.
bride and groom stand with 6 friend outside stone church
Credit: Erich McVey

For some couples, eloping is a choice they make because they're limited in terms of time, budget, and/or an interest in planning all the details that go into a wedding. For others, the idea of an elopement or an intimate wedding feels like an easier, more fuss-free way to make their commitment. Now, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, couples are eloping or planning last-minute intimate celebrations as a way to honor their original wedding date while they wait until it's safer to gather family and friends for a larger ceremony and reception. But how planned should an elopement or intimate wedding actually be? Ultimately, there's no right answer, and what you should do will depend on what you're envisioning and what resources you're willing to allocate to the day. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your elopement or intimate so you can start getting an idea of how planned the day should be.

What are you envisioning?

Wedding planner Amy Nichols of Amy Nichols Special Events asks, "Do you want a picture perfect elopement with Instagram-worthy details such as a stunning bouquet, beautifully styled ring shots, and thoughtful moments, even though it's just the two of you?" If this is your vision, you'll want to bring an adequate amount of planning into the equation, similar to a styled photo shoot or the effort you'd put into planning a weekend getaway. If you're having guests, think about the experience you want for them. Is it important that you have a delicious meal and great drinks, but not so important that you bring in a ton of décor? Then devote your focus to the refreshments and scale back everywhere else.

Will you have time to plan an elopement?

Nichols says that planning an elopement or intimate wedding can take anywhere from ten to 20 hours of work; this time will be devoted to negotiating with vendors, booking venues, and putting a timeline in place for the day. Regardless of how simple you keep it, you'll still probably want to cover the basics like having the right attire, bringing a photographer along for photos, maybe having nice flowers to carry, and going somewhere special to celebrate with food and wine after exchanging your vows. Selecting all these details and planning for them can take as much or as little research and effort as you allow.

Should you hire a wedding planner for your elopement or intimate wedding?

Nichols says, "If you're super busy and don't have the bandwidth to get your flowers, secure a photographer, and so on, hiring a planner might make sense. If you simply want to get married at the courthouse and have some photos snapped, then hiring a planner may not make sense." There are plenty of wedding planners who specialize in elopements or small weddings, and these pros are particularly helpful if you're planning a destination elopement and would like recommendations for local vendors and venues.


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